Anchor Bay // 2010 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 18th, 2010
No clues. No evidence. No answers. No trace.
Mary Walsh (Brittany Murphy, Girl, Interrupted) drops off her boyfriend (Dean Cain, Lois and Clark) for a routine outpatient orthopedic procedure in a Los Angeles hospital. An hour later when she returns from the waiting room nobody can find him. Mary begins to browbeat the medical center's staff, convinced they are hiding something -- particularly the snarky head administrator (Mimi Rodgers, Someone to Watch Over Me). Soon the hospital's resident shrink (Peter Bogdanovich, The Last Picture Show) reveals he thinks Mary is crazy, and now she has to prove her own sanity and find her boyfriend. But wait: there are even more twists along the way as Abandoned paints itself in to a terrible corner with no way out.
I wanted it to be okay, but this is just not something I would ever recommend for viewing. It's a movie that starts with a great creepy concept. Hospitals are absolutely places where you could imagine losing someone all too easily with their mounds of paperwork and insane computer systems. The film is also Brittany Murphy's last role before she passed away, so you want it to be good enough for her legacy. Unfortunately there are many elements that are just not right in the feature that keep it from feeling even competent as a thriller.
The most egregious error is the script, which is riddled with logic holes and tons of moments where viewers will scream "they would not do that." The way the police and the hospital staff react to Mary is insane, and the way they handle her plight seems cruel and unusual. Then there are the obligatory twists which simply muddy things up even more. Lines of dialogue are real groaners with characters saying things that seem not even close to the way a real person speaks. The story doesn't work and the characters are never fleshed out well enough for us to care.
The production itself looks terrible and has tons of mistakes. The location shooting suggests maybe a couple of hallways were used in a hospital, and then in the last half they moved to an office building that was being renovated. It looks cheap and easy with no continuity, especially with the same hall repeating in a sequence several times over. There are never enough extras to make me believe this is a working hospital, even one about to close down for renovation. There's one scene where Brittany Murphy makes a call on her cell phone, and nobody seemed to notice she was holding it upside down. There is no attention to detail at all, and that gives away the low budget and inept team.
Then we realize something is terribly off on Brittany Murphy's styling: she looks bad. Her hair looks like it needs to have the roots done and it appears dirty throughout. Her make-up is insanely heavy with someone making her lips look bigger than they should. She's supposed to be a successful business woman, but she looks like she's auditioning for the next Joker in a Batman series. Amazingly her late husband is credited with her make-up, hair, and wardrobe. He seemed to not know how to make her look her best. Then there are times when the lighting reveals heavy bags under her eyes and hair that is matted. She looks like she just woke up from a nap in full make-up and nobody bothered to do a touchup.
The DVD has a very sharp transfer that reveals all the flaws too easily. A Blu-Ray edition is being released simultaneously, and I can only imagine how much more you'll be able to see the mistakes in that one. Colors pop, there are solid black levels, and the whole transfer is far too well executed for the film here. Surround sound does fine too. There are no extras, and that seems a shame since we long for a real conversation from the late lead actress.
This is hardly what I want to remember Brittany Murphy by. She did some insanely great films like Sin City, Clueless, Girl Interrupted, and many more. This is not what I would like to see as her final role, but there's not much we can do other than hope that the forthcoming Something Wicked proves to be better for her. Abandoned looks like it was cheaply made and not well thought out. It has a good cast, but it somehow missed everything else when being produced. It's a DVD destined for the bargain bin, and even there you'll pay far too much for it. Better to hold on to your good memories, and skip this one.
Guilty of being the worst film of Brittany Murphy's career.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13